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‘I Waited Too Long To Be Pain Free’

A tile layer by trade, Mike Kuzo put off knee surgery until he couldn’t walk

Since 2006, Mike Kuzo had a “bad” knee. Afraid of having surgery and exhausting all non-operative treatments, he suffered in pain until he could no longer walk. At 73, Kuzo decided it was time to do something.

Twenty years into his 50-year career as a tile layer, Kuzo, a Jim Thorpe resident, decided to finally wear knee pads. Thirty years later, the wear and tear on his knees had taken their toll, making the fearful decision to seek medical attention for him. “I’m not going to lie, I tried everything else and nothing worked,” says Kuzo.

Orthopedic surgeon and elite craftsman reunite

When orthopedic surgeon Thomas Meade, MD, opened the door of his exam room, he recognized the elite craftsman who had designed and installed tile on three floors of his home over 20 years earlier. “Watching Mike carry thousands of pounds of tile, mortar and heavy cutting tools, I saw, firsthand, how physically demanding his job was. I’m truly amazed his joints lasted that long!” says Dr. Meade.

The evolution of knee replacement surgery

According to Dr. Meade, knee replacement surgery is like a knee resurfacing procedure. “Unlike hip or shoulder replacement, where the entire joint is removed and replaced, today’s leading-edge knee replacement procedure is best visualized as a crown on the end of the femur bone and on top of the tibia bone, similar to how a dentist would crown an upper and lower molar and not remove the tooth,” Dr. Meade says.

Dr. Meade performed Kuzo’s first knee replacement procedure on his right knee in November 2020 and the second procedure on his left knee in September 2022.

Words of wisdom

Walking with a walker on day one with no medications or pain, Kuzo says, “If I knew it was this easy, I would have done it much sooner!” Referring several friends to Dr. Meade, Kuzo tells them the best thing to do following the procedure is to move and keep active. “I arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Carbon at 7 a.m., was home at 11 a.m. and walking the same day!” says Kuzo. Today he is walking pain-free and enjoying retirement.

“Mike is no longer the exception and is more commonly the norm,” Dr. Meade says. “Advances in knee replacement surgery, including pain management without narcotics and accelerated rehab, have come a long way. We will never go back to the way it was when I began 30 years ago.”

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

The region’s leader in joint, spine and orthopedic care gets you moving again.

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